Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:19-25 NKJV) The idea of “walking in the Spirit” has been much discussed over the years. Paul gives us quite a vivid contrast between following the flesh and living from the Spirit, but how to get from one to the other seems a little dim. Years ago I heard the admonition to “Feed the spirit, starve the flesh.” That sounded pretty good, but still left me wondering about the how-to. Today, as I read this passage again, it struck me how stupid it is to be feeding a corpse. If the old man is dead, why do I keep trying to stimulate him back to life?
In the ongoing battle between flesh and spirit, the winner is almost always the one you feed the most. Feeding the spirit is pretty straight-forward: spend time in the Word, go to a church where the Word is preached, pray in the spirit, worship with your heart, fellowship the things of God with godly people …. I’m good with that. but what does it mean to feed the flesh? Undoubtedly, repeated yielding to sinful cravings strengthens the flesh. I believe, however, that acts of gluttony and drunkenness and fornication originate with inward issues. We feed the flesh on spiritual junk food by watching and listening to media, reading books and articles, engaging in conversations with junky companions, and allowing our minds to chew on junk when we are alone with our thoughts. You are what you eat!
To determine if you’re consuming junk, just print out a copy of Paul’s list on the works of the flesh. Anything you take in that arouses or encourages one of those attitudes or actions is spiritual junk. Spit it out. For example, if I am watching TV and folks start disrobing, I don’t sit and watch like a dope. I turn it off and spit it out. If I am listening to the news and I find myself getting angry and wishing harm toward people I don’t even know, I turn it off and spit it out. If I am at coffee with some Christians and they begin to discuss the failings of another minister, I speak up for him, then spit out the dissension and hatred. You get the idea. Quit feeding a dead man.